We have made it through the full Ohio State season and finally make it to “the game” against “that team up north” or however you want to put it.
The score of 42-27 still stings any Ohio State player, coach or fan as the Buckeyes just appeared to get pushed around in Ann Arbor (Mich.) last season and dreams of the College Football Playoff disappeared on the snowy field at Michigan Stadium.
Sure, we can talk about how the Wolverines did not play Ohio State in 2020, a year where the Buckeyes would have held a significant advantage playing in Columbus. Now the Wolverines faithful are crowing that it has been two years since the Buckeyes last beat the Wolverines due to that cancellation and patience is wearing thin in Buckeye Nation.
Michigan loses a lot from its 2021 Big Ten Championship (promise never to say that phrase again) team and the game shifts back to Ohio Stadium. The Wolverines feel they have cracked the code to beat Ohio State but smart money says that the Buckeyes will changes more than a few things up and attempt to start a new streak against Michigan.
What is in store for the most anticipated game of the 2022 season from an Ohio State point of view? Let’s call that final speed option of the season and find out.
All-time Series Record: Michigan leads 59-52-6
Last Meeting: 2021 – Michigan def. Ohio State 42-27
2021 Record: 12-2, 8-1 Big Ten Conference
Returning Starters: 13 (9 Off., 4 Def.)
Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh
Total Offense: 443.1 YPG (25th)
Rushing Offense: 214.4 YPG (15th)
Passing Offense: 228.7 YPG (68th)
Scoring Offense: 35.8 PPG (16th)
Cade McNamara or JJ McCarthy, or both? It doesn’t matter who starts the season or even plays game number six, who will be the guy come game number 12? How do they keep both quarterbacks happy in Ann Arbor (Mich.) and what will the room look like for that big game?
Really the biggest news on the offense is the return of Ronnie Bell, a true No. 1 receiver for Michigan after he comes back from a knee injury. Michigan did not have a room of known receivers going into the season outside of Bell and many college football fans would still not be able to pick Cornelius Johnson, Andrel Anthony, or Roman Wilson out of a crowd. When talking about Michigan, you have to talk about the tight end position and Erick All along with Luke Schoonmaker gives the Wolverines some solid options at the position.
Hassan Haskins is not at Michigan any longer and this suddenly becomes the Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards show. We can assure you that Edwards is not going to surprise anyone this year, either as a rusher or pass catcher. Really, is Michigan going to be a running team with some passing to keep teams honest or will they move to a more balanced approach with Bell back as a receiver?
Total Defense: 330.8 YPG (20th)
Rushing Defense: 126.4 YPG (27th)
Passing Defense: 204.4 YPG (27th)
Scoring Defense: 17.4 PPG (8th)
There is a lot gone from the 2022 defense starting with coordinator Mike MacDonald all the way through defensive linemen to Daxton Hill in the secondary. The Wolverines only have four returning starters from last season and it is going to be a work in progress to try and recapture some of the magic from last season.
Jesse Minter comes in from Vanderbilt and was apparently the runner-up to MacDonald for the DC position the first time around on advice of John Harbaugh from the Baltimore Ravens. Vandy is not going to make anyone take pause as any sort of powerhouse but as Jim Harbaugh mentioned at Big Ten Media Days, it did give Minter the chance to call defensive plays and that is going to be a big plus as the overall talent level under his watch goes up at Michigan.
Gone are Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, and that is a big loss for any team. Michigan will have big-time one-tech Mazi Smith back, but who is going to generate the edge rush because so much of Michigan’s success was in blowing up plays before anything could develop. Without speeding offenses up, what is in store?
Losing Dax Hill is a big loss and DJ Turner is going to need to step into the leadership role in the secondary. While Michigan may not recruit the same players as Ohio State does, you can’t just assume that they don’t have any “guys” who will be ready, but last year really felt like a perfect storm of elder statesmen on the team who all came together at the right time to create something special.
Do we really need any random musings here with this game, it is a game that everyone who follows Ohio State pays attention to for 365 days a year. You have to go back to 1999-2000 for the last time that Wolverines won back-to-back games in this series, the last gasp of their “run” over Ohio State over the course of the John Cooper-era.
The Buckeyes have become a passing team as of late but can’t divorce themselves from running the ball. Ohio State averaged just 2.1 YPC in the 2021 game, far and away a season low. The Buckeyes rushed for less than 100 yards in two games last season, the loss to Michigan (64) and a close win over Nebraska (90).
The 42 points given up by Ohio State last season was the most since the 1946 game in Columbus when Ohio State gave up 58 in a 58-6 loss. First-year head coach Paul Bixler did not return in 1947 after that game.